Colorado: Governor Polis Pardons Thousands with Past Marijuana Convictions

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday pardoning those with past marijuana conviction records involving the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

“We are finally cleaning up some of the inequities of the past by pardoning 2,732 convictions for Coloradans who simply had an ounce of marijuana or less. It’s ridiculous how being written up for smoking a joint in the 1970’s has followed some Coloradans throughout their lives and gotten in the way of their success,” Polis said.

Those with state-level convictions as identified by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are eligible for the pardon, and individuals do not need to submit an application in order to receive one.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano highlights the collateral consequences of a conviction, stating, “Thousands of citizens unduly carry the undue burden and stigmatization of a past conviction for behavior that is no longer considered to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that officials move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”

The move comes after Gov. Polis signed separate legislation into law earlier this year granting him the expanded authority to issue such pardons, which took effect this month.

Jeri Shepherd, member of the Colorado NORML Board of Directors, praised the governor’s and lawmakers’ actions. “Thank you, Governor Polis, for giving many Coloradans a new lease on life with the pardoning of 2,732 marijuana possession convictions,” she said. “Thank you to the Colorado legislature for your forward thinking in passing the law to allow this to happen. We encourage our lawmakers to continue to pass laws that reinforce the voters’ intent when they passed Amendment 64 in 2012.”

Gov. Polis joins Governors Pritzker of Illinois, Sisolak of Nevada, and Inslee of Washington in vacating the records of thousands with past, low-level marijuana convictions.